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Environmental justice issues in communities hosting US nuclear power plants

Description

This study explores the potential risks associated with the 65 U.S.-based commercial nuclear power plants (NPPs) and the distribution of those risks among the populations of both their respective host communities and of the communities located in outlying areas. First,

This study explores the potential risks associated with the 65 U.S.-based commercial nuclear power plants (NPPs) and the distribution of those risks among the populations of both their respective host communities and of the communities located in outlying areas. First, I examine the relevant environmental justice issues. I start by examining the racial/ethnic composition of the host community populations, as well as the disparities in socio-economic status that exist, if any, between the host communities and communities located in outlying areas. Second, I estimate the statistical associations that exist, if any, between a population's distance from a NPP and several independent variables. I conduct multivariate ordinary least square (OLS) regression analyses and spatial autocorrelation regression (SAR) analyses at the national, regional and individual-NPP levels. Third, I construct a NPP potential risk index (NPP PRI) that defines four discrete risk categories--namely, very high risk, high risk, moderate risk, and low risk. The NPP PRI allows me then to estimate the demographic characteristics of the populations exposed to each so-defined level of risk. Fourth, using the Palo Verde NPP as the subject, I simulate a scenario in which a NPP experiences a core-damage accident. I use the RASCAL 4.3 software to simulate the path of dispersion of the resultant radioactive plume, and to investigate the statistical associations that exist, if any, between the dispersed radioactive plume and the demographic characteristics of the populations located within the plume's footprint. This study utilizes distributive justice theories to understand the distribution of the potential risks associated with NPPs, many of which are unpredictable, irreversible and inescapable. I employ an approach that takes into account multiple stakeholders in order to provide avenues for all parties to express concerns, and to ensure the relevance and actionability of any resulting policy recommendations.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2014

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Environmental justice and the siting of SR-85 and North Gateway Transfer Station

Description

It is widely recognized that, compared to others, minority and low-income populations are more exposed to environmental burdens and unwanted land uses like waste facilities. To prevent these injustices, cities and industry need to recognize these potential problems in the

It is widely recognized that, compared to others, minority and low-income populations are more exposed to environmental burdens and unwanted land uses like waste facilities. To prevent these injustices, cities and industry need to recognize these potential problems in the siting process and work to address them. I studied Phoenix, AZ, which has historically suffered from environmental justice issues. I examined whether Phoenix considered environmental justice concerns when siting their newest landfill (SR-85) and transfer station (North Gateway Transfer Station). Additionally, I assessed current views on sustainability from members of the Phoenix Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee and of decision-makers in the Public Works Department and Solid Waste Division. Using a mixed methods approach consisting of interviews, document analysis, and a demographic assessment of census tracts, I addressed two main research questions:

1. Do the distributions and siting processes of environmental burdens from SR-85 and North Gateway Transfer Station constitute a case of environmental injustice according to commonly held definitions?

2. Do current Solid Waste and council members on the Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee consider environmental justice, defined as stakeholder engagement, to be a part of sustainability?

The results show that the distribution and siting processes of environmental burdens from these facilities may constitute a case of environmental injustice. While city officials do involve stakeholders in siting decisions, the effects of this involvement is unclear. An analysis of long-term demographic data, however, revealed no significant racial, ethnic, or economic effects due to the locations of the SR-85 and North Gateway Transfer Station.

Interviews with current members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, Public Works Department, and Solid Waste Division indicated that Phoenix’s decision-makers don’t consider environmental justice as part of sustainability. However, they seem to consider stakeholder engagement as important for decision-making.

To help mitigate future injustices, Phoenix needs buffer zone policies for waste facilities and stakeholder engagement policies for decision-making to ensure the public is engaged appropriately in all circumstances. Enacting these policies will help Phoenix become both a more sustainable city and one in which stakeholders have the opportunity to provide feedback and are given decision-making power.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2015

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Transportation cordon pricing in the San Francisco Bay Area: analyzing equity implications for low-income commuters

Description

Cordon pricing strategies attempt to charge motorists for the marginal social costs of driving in heavily congested areas, lure them out of their vehicles and into other modes, and thereby reduce vehicle miles traveled and congestion-related externalities. These strategies are

Cordon pricing strategies attempt to charge motorists for the marginal social costs of driving in heavily congested areas, lure them out of their vehicles and into other modes, and thereby reduce vehicle miles traveled and congestion-related externalities. These strategies are gaining policy-makers` attention worldwide. The benefits and costs of such strategies can potentially lead to a disproportionate and inequitable burden on lower income commuters, particularly those commuters with poor accessibility to alternative modes of transportation. Strategies designed to mitigate the impacts of cordon pricing for disadvantaged travelers, such as discount and exemptions, can reduce the effectiveness of the pricing strategy. Transit improvements using pricing fee revenues are another mitigation strategy, but can be wasteful and inefficient if not properly targeted toward those most disadvantaged and in need. This research examines these considerations and explores the implications for transportation planners working to balance goals of system effectiveness, efficiency, and equity. First, a theoretical conceptual model for analyzing the justice implications of cordon pricing is presented. Next, the Mobility Access and Pricing Study, a cordon pricing strategy examined by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority is analyzed utilizing a neighborhood-level accessibility-based approach. The fee-payment impacts for low-income transportation-disadvantaged commuters within the San Francisco Bay area are examined, utilizing Geographic Information Systems coupled with data from the Longitudinal Employment and Household Dynamics program of the US Census Bureau. This research questions whether the recommended blanket 50% discount for low-income travelers would unnecessarily reduce the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the cordon pricing system. It is proposed that reinvestment of revenue in transportation-improvement projects targeted at those most disproportionately impacted by tolling fees, low-income automobile-dependent peak-period commuters in areas with poor access to alternative modes, would be a more suitable mitigation strategy. This would not only help maintain the efficiency and effectiveness of the cordon pricing system, but would better address income, modal and spatial equity issues. The results of this study demonstrate how the spatial distribution of the toll-payment impacts may burden low-income residents in quite different ways, thereby warranting the inclusion of such analysis in transportation planning and practice.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2013

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Urban political ecology of green public space in Mexico City: equity, parks and people

Description

Decades of research confirms that urban green spaces in the form of parks, gardens, and urban forests provide numerous environmental and social services including microclimate regulation, noise reduction, rainwater drainage, stress amelioration, etc. In post-industrial megacities of the twenty-first century,

Decades of research confirms that urban green spaces in the form of parks, gardens, and urban forests provide numerous environmental and social services including microclimate regulation, noise reduction, rainwater drainage, stress amelioration, etc. In post-industrial megacities of the twenty-first century, densely populated, violent and heavily polluted such as Mexico City, having access to safe and well-maintained green public space is in all respects necessary for people to maintain or improve their quality of life. However, according to recent reports by the Mexican Ministry of Environment, green public spaces in Mexico City are insufficient and unevenly distributed across the sixteen boroughs of the Mexican Distrito Federal. If it is known that parks are essential urban amenities, why are green public spaces in Mexico City scarce and so unevenly distributed? As a suite of theoretical frameworks, Urban Political Ecology (UPE) has been used to study uneven urban development and its resulting unequal socio-ecological relations. UPE explores the complex relationship between environmental change, socio-economic urban characteristics and political processes. This research includes a detailed analysis of the distributive justice of green public space (who gets what and why) based on socio-spatial data sets provided by the Environment and Land Management Agency for the Federal District. Moreover, this work went beyond spatial data depicting available green space (m2/habitant) and explored the relation between green space distribution and other socio-demographic attributes, i.e. gender, socio-economic status, education and age that according to environmental justice theory, are usually correlated to an specific (biased) distribution of environmental burdens and amenities. Moreover, using archival resources complemented with qualitative data generated through in-depth interviews with key actors involved in the creation, planning, construction and management of green public spaces, this research explored the significant role of public and private institutions in the development of Mexico City's parks and green publics spaces, with a special focus on the effects of neoliberal capitalism as the current urban political economy in the city.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2015

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Disconnected: investigating the social and political conditions shaping Mexico City's air quality regulatory environment

Description

Mexico City has an ongoing air pollution issue that negatively affects its citizens and surroundings with current structural disconnections preventing the city from improving its overall air quality. Thematic methodological analysis reveals current obstacles and barriers, as well as variables

Mexico City has an ongoing air pollution issue that negatively affects its citizens and surroundings with current structural disconnections preventing the city from improving its overall air quality. Thematic methodological analysis reveals current obstacles and barriers, as well as variables contributing to this persistent problem. A historical background reveals current programs and policies implemented to improve Mexico’s City air quality. Mexico City’s current systems, infrastructure, and policies are inadequate and ineffective. There is a lack of appropriate regulation on other modes of transportation, and the current government system fails to identify how the class disparity in the city and lack of adequate education are contributing to this ongoing problem. Education and adequate public awareness can potentially aid the fight against air pollution in the Metropolitan City.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2018

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Reimagining Sustainability: Acknowledging and Removing Barriers to Sustainability in Poor Marginalized Communities of Color

Description

Sustainable communities discourse, literature and initiatives have essentially excluded poor marginalized communities at a time when sustainability efforts require more stakeholders and stakeholder involvement. The families in poor marginalized communities of color in the United States are struggling to meet

Sustainable communities discourse, literature and initiatives have essentially excluded poor marginalized communities at a time when sustainability efforts require more stakeholders and stakeholder involvement. The families in poor marginalized communities of color in the United States are struggling to meet basic needs (food, medicine, shelter, safety). Additionally, in these communities there is a disproportionate level of forced mobility to prisons, jails and detention centers. These communities are unsustainable. This dissertation is comprised of three articles. I present in the first article (published in Sustainability Journal) an argument for a definition of sustainability that includes recognition of the major, complex and persistent problems faced daily by poor marginalized communities of color (African American, Hispanic/Latino, Native American) including those connected to mass incarceration and high recidivism. I also propose a system-of-communities conceptual framework. In my second article, I explore sustainability assessment tools and find them to be inadequate for measuring the progress toward sustainability of poor marginalized communities with high incarceration and recidivism rates. In order to fill this gap, I developed the Building Sustainable Communities Framework and a Social Reintegration, Inclusion, Cohesion, Equity (Social R.I.C.E.) Transition Tool, a qualitative interview guide (a precursor to the development of a community sustainability assessment tool). In the third article, I test the utility of the Building Sustainable Communities Framework and Social R.I.C.E. Transition Tool through a community-based participatory action study: The Building Sustainable Communities-Repairing the Harm of Incarceration Pilot Project. Three types of participants were included, formerly incarcerated, family members of formerly incarcerated and community members. The Restorative Justice Circle process (based on a traditional practice of Native Americans and other indigenous peoples) was also introduced to the groups for the purpose of having discussions and sharing personal stories in a safe, nonthreatening, confidential and equitable space. During the study, data was gathered for reflexive thematic analysis from two participant groups, in-depth interviews, focus groups and short qualitative surveys. The findings reflect the community is in dire need of a path to stability and sustainability and needs the knowledge and tools to help them make collective community decisions about present and future sustainability issues.

Contributors

Agent

Created

Date Created
2021